REPUTATION

8 Nov

A brand new British musical

The original story by Alick and Suzanne Glass is about plagiarism. It is therefore appropriate that no Sandy Wilson turn is left unstoned! We have some Perfect Young Ladies at a finishing school in France (Paris, not Nice) and the brief appearance of a kind of Madame Dubonnet played by the choreographer Tamsyn Salter.

One of the students, Michelle Grant, is missing from the Spanish class. Mary, her best friend discovers Michelle alone in her room, working on her novel!
Michelle is a modern miss who has no wish to dwindle into Somebody’s wife but has ambitions to be Somebody herself.
One of the Young Ladies finds an ad in Variety asking for original material for movies (along with twenty dollars for expenses) to be sent to a certain Mr Freddy Larceny in Hollywood.
Michelle does so and awaits a reply. Much later, another of the Young Ladies find out that there is a new film to be made with Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. The synopsis is Michelle’s story.
A court case accusing Freddy of plagiarism involves a charming young lawyer, Archie, hired by Michelle’s Dad to fight her side against the evil Larceny.

The production at the Other Palace Studio is the play’s very first outing – and there is a lot of interesting material there.
I am sure that all writers have experienced plagiarism. There is nothing much to be done about it except to learn to be a bit more careful and less trusting in the perpetrators. But Michelle is young and she has a loving Father who insists that she should make a real fuss about it.
She sings a moving song about disenchantment beginning ‘When you are young, its hard not to imagine that everyone plays by the rules’
The play is made memorable by the robust and vibrant baritone of Jeremy Secombe who plays the villainous Freddy Larceny. Here is a villain to please any panto audience. Seacombe has a trio of rabble rousing songs. ‘Reputation’ about how important is it for him to conduct his nefarious deals without revealing his true intentions. ‘Paranoia’ is how he intends to attack Michelle by convincing the judge she is crazy. Probably his best number is ‘Don’t mess with Freddy’.
The hero, Archie is played by Ed Wade.owner of a beautiful and perfectly conrolled songing voice and the sort of face that makes you smile. He gets to sing the only love song, which he does with sensitivity and expertise.
Maddy Banks has a refeshing innocence and a gritty determination to get her name on the movie and is partnered very well with Laura Ingram as Mary and later by Ed Wade.
The Young Ladies, some of them recent graduates of acting schools are, I fear, a little over-used and I don’t love their yellow costumes which tend to dominate the studio stage when they perform their energetic routines. They are involved in most of the numbers in Act one, many of which are not necessary to the plot and make the act seem too long. It is in Act Two that everything happens.

I should like to see this piece when it has been played in for a while. The potential is not entirely realised in the current producton. It is a two hour play with 25 songs – far too many musical items as it gives the audience no chance to learn and love any of them.
Every show needs a hit song to hum along as we leave the theatre.

aline waites

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